Sunday, March 1, 2009

"RALPH BINGO"

From 1976 to 1986 I worked for the Manning family in Dennis Port, Mass on Cape Cod as Director of Group Sales for their two motels and two restaurants; The Soundings Motel,The Colonial Village Motel, The Captain's Clambake Emporium, and The Captain William's House Restaurant. We hosted a lot of motorcoach tours at the motels, primarily senior citizen groups. Bill Manning was one of the first motel owners to tap the motorcoach tour market while hosting senior groups at The Colonial Village.

In addition to providing rooms for the senior groups we would also have a cocktail party for each group. Some of the groups would also enjoy playing bingo. We had a bingo set with a metal barrel like container filled with ping pong balls with the letters and numbers on them. This see through container had a small crank handle on the side so you could mix up the ping pong balls after each number was called.

I was often asked to host the bingo games. One game in particular comes to mind. The infamous "Ralph Bingo". At the oceanfront motel, The Soundings, we had a conference/party room where we had the cocktail parties and bingo nights. The Vernon Seniors, lead by Don Berger and his assistant Joan, would bring up almost a hundred seniors on two buses from Vernon, Connecticut to stay at the Soundings each year for a four night visit to the Cape. Don would say to me,"Rick, can we have you do the bingo on one of the nights?." I said,"sure".

We used to charge a dollar a card for the bingo night. With this money we would take some of the items from the lobby gift shop for prizes such as salt water taffy, souvenir glasses and mugs. The rest of the collected money was used for prizes and I would also add an extra free bingo card or two to the prize packages.

During the "Ralph Bingo" episode, Mike Crossen was assisting me as we had almost one hundred people in the party room and I needed somebody to keep track of the bingo numbers called. Bingo is a game where really it is the number on the card that is important not the letters B-I-N-G-O per Se. A lot of the group were serious bingo players but I personally didn't find the game that interesting. I decided to "spice up" the game and make it a little more interesting.

I started out calling this bingo game the regular way with a loud enough voice so that everyone could hear the selected ping pong balls such as I 25, B11, N44, etc... for the first game. Then, I said"for the next game we are going to play "Ralph" as well as bingo at the same time. The "B" will equal "R", the "I" will equal "A", the "N"will equal "L", the "G" will equal "P", and the "O" will equal "H". So for this game for example, I would call out R2B2, A25I25, L44N44, and so forth until a winner would yell out "Ralph Bingo" and we would check to make sure we had a winner.

For the third game I continued with the "Ralph Bingo" manner as described above in a loud clear voice so everyone could hear. I then started to call a few numbers out in a normal conversational voice tone and some of the people in the group would say; "what?, we can't heard you." I then stopped the game and said, "apparently some of you couldn't hear me calling those last few numbers. In order to help you I will provide some visual and other assistance. On even numbers called Mike will stand and I will sit. On odd numbers I will stand and Mike will sit. On multiples of five Mike and I will clap our hands, one multiples of three we will both salute, one multiples of ten we will both sit. And, with each number called we will do all of these applicable things in combination to further help you know which number was just called."

I had some of these bingo players belly laughing as Mike and I would be going up and down, clapping and saluting, as the different numbers were called during our "Ralph Bingo" games. I understand Ed McMahon, Johnny Carson's sidekick on the tonight show, got his start as a bingo caller. I bet he never called "Ralph Bingo".